PONTIAC, MI – Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman, and Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network (OIHN) joined other community leaders today to fight to keep a family medicine residency program which serves Pontiac’s residents, many of which are low-income.
Area residents are at risk of losing the Family Medicine Residency Program at Doctors’ Hospital of Michigan (DHM) in the wake of the hospital’s recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, if they cannot restructure successfully.
“This family medicine program is critical to providing healthcare services to Pontiac area residents who are on Medicare, Medicaid or without insurance,” Patterson said. “Hospitals outside of Pontiac are already lobbying for the residency program because Doctors’ Hospital filed for bankruptcy. We urge the decision makers to keep the Family Medicine Residency Program in Pontiac should Doctors’ Hospital not be able to successfully emerge from bankruptcy.”
Pontiac is considered the only medically underserved area in Oakland County. The partnership between OIHN and the Federally Qualified Health Center model of care has been an extremely important relationship for the Family Medicine Residency Program which has served the Pontiac community for over 30 years. The 18 medical residents in the program also become part of the community. They make Pontiac their home during their three-year residency. Eighty percent of the patients at the Family Medicine Residency Program and Family Medicine Center receive Medicaid or Medicare benefits, allowing more individuals to have access to quality healthcare.
“If the Family Medicine Residency Program were to leave Pontiac, not only would it be harmful to the patients it serves, but to the Pontiac community as a whole,” Mayor Deirdre Waterman said. “Pontiac wants to ensure a good quality of life for our residents by having access to quality, affordable healthcare.
”Patterson and Waterman join the growing number of political and community leaders who are putting out the call to keep the family medicine residency program in Pontiac. Last week, Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael J. Gingell and Commissioner David E.S. Bowman, who represents Pontiac, co-sponsored a bi-partisan resolution to keep the Family Medicine Residency Program in Pontiac. It passed unanimously.
The Family Medicine Residency Program and its 18 residency slots could go up for bid to other hospitals if DHM does not successfully emerge from financial restructuring. If these slots were to relocate outside of Pontiac, fewer doctors would be available to see patients in the Pontiac area, especially those who are on Medicare and Medicaid.
“We are extremely proud of the ongoing relationship that the Family Medicine Residency Program has had with Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network since our inception,” said Michael Robinson, board member and patient at OIHN. “These resources are vital to this community and we need them here to improve access to care for those that need it most.
”Without access to a quality and affordable primary care doctor like those in the Family Medicine Residency Program, most of these individuals would be forced to either not seek care or to seek care at a nearby emergency room which drives up the cost of healthcare.
“As a patient of Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network, it’s great to receive care in the community that I reside in by qualified, passionate and caring providers,” said Dubrae Newman, a patient of OIHN.
The departure of the Family Medicine Residency Program from Pontiac would negatively affect the overall health and wellness of the community.
“Over the last 30 years, the Family Medicine Residency Program has been a positive impact on the Pontiac community,” former resident Dr. Vince Guglielmetti said. “Being a resident and living in the community you are serving is incredibly valuable due to the bonds made with the people in the community.”
Dr. Mirsen Lekovic, also a former resident, agreed.
“The program has an extremely accomplished history of preparing residents who are passionate about giving back and well-prepared to provide quality care. With leadership and faculty that care about the success of their residents, residents graduate the program with a wealth of knowledge they can’t get anywhere else,” he said.